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Bargain shopping: 5 buy-low fantasy options

Abreu, Franco, Zobrist among struggling players worth acquiring
MLB.com

With three weeks of the season in the books, the trade market should be heating up in the fantasy realm.

If your team is performing near or above expectations, you'll likely need to make some moves to maintain that level of success. Meanwhile, fantasy owners off to poor starts may be feeling a sense of urgency. As a result, some struggling players can likely now be acquired for significantly less than just a few short weeks ago.

With three weeks of the season in the books, the trade market should be heating up in the fantasy realm.

If your team is performing near or above expectations, you'll likely need to make some moves to maintain that level of success. Meanwhile, fantasy owners off to poor starts may be feeling a sense of urgency. As a result, some struggling players can likely now be acquired for significantly less than just a few short weeks ago.

Below are five such players who have the potential to make a difference down the road.

Jose Abreu, first baseman (Chicago White Sox): Abreu certainly fits into the slow starters category, as he has a slash line of .203/.261/.250 without a homer in his first 17 games. But fantasy owners have seen Abreu do this before. In fact, the slugger owned a similar .180/.268/.344 slash line through 17 games last season before going on to finish with .293/.353/.468 marks and his third consecutive 25-homer, 100-RBI showing. Abreu plays in a hitter's park and should heat up as the weather does. Smart fantasy owners probably acquired him at a discount around this time last season, and the opening is there to do the same now.

Video: Zinkie, Leach on Thames and Ozuna's start to 2017

Maikel Franco, third baseman (Philadelphia Phillies): The 24-year-old Franco is hitting just .171/.244/.329 for Philadelphia, but the slow start looks to have some bad luck -- specifically, a .155 batting average on balls in play -- attached to it. For a hitter who puts the ball in play as much as Franco does (12.8 percent strikeout rate in 2017), his average could rise 100 points or more. The third baseman also has a decent crack at his first 100-RBI season, as he's batted cleanup in all but one game and already tallied 16 RBIs in 18 games despite his early struggles.

Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF (Chicago Cubs): Although he's recorded just a .212 average and .346 slugging percentage through his first 15 games, Zobrist is a worthwhile trade option for savvy fantasy owners. The veteran has maintained solid plate discipline by walking nine times in his first 62 plate appearances, and the Cubs have stuck with him as their regular cleanup hitter through the lackluster start. That leaves him in position to provide strong contributions in the RBI and runs-scored arenas once he heats up with the bat. Moreover, owners can benefit from the roster flexibility provided by Zobrist and his trusty multi-position eligibility.

Jose Quintana, starter (Chicago White Sox): Quintana has been as consistent as any pitcher in the American League over the past five seasons, but his 2017 numbers don't reflect that. Coming off a career-best 13 wins, 3.20 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, the left-hander has started off 0-4 with a 6.17 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP this season. Although the 28-year-old's peripherals (5.64 FIP, 4.94 xFIP) aren't exactly encouraging, this is a situation where fantasy owners should trust the track record and expect the southpaw to figure out what's ailing him.

Video: Zinkie looks at fantasy waiver wire options

Keon Broxton, outfielder (Milwaukee Brewers): Broxton has gotten off to a difficult start -- hitting .173/.246/.308 with a 42.1 percent strikeout rate in his first 57 plate appearances -- but he's shown the ability to work his way out of a tough situation before. After recording a .125/.253/.188 slash line in his first 75 plate appearances last season and getting optioned to the Minors, the speedy center fielder made a mechanical change to his swing and returned with a fury. The youngster showed the ability to be a potential five-category contributor following his promotion in late July, recording a .294/.399/.538 line with eight homers and 16 steals in 46 games. Given the upside here, the 26-year-old is worth the low cost it will likely take to acquire him.

Steven Inman is a fantasy writer for MLB.com